Android and iPhone update history graphed

We have all been there, waiting for an update to arrive and not knowing if the manufacture of our device will pull through to make it happen. Theunderstatment.com has taken a look and has graphed out the iPhone and Android update history per device for three years after launch and provides a glimpse at which manufactures are at the top of their game for delivering timely updates.

It's not really a surprise to see Apple devices supported to a greater degree than Android devices as Apple only has a limited number of models that it needs to update. Android, on the other hand, provides a mixed bag of updates with highlights of Google's own devices getting timely updates and then there are devices like the Motorola Cliq and Backflip that left the starting gate already behind. The graphic is representative of "every Android phone shipped in the United States up through the middle of last year".

Is it a straight comparison to compare iPhones to all Android devices, certainly not, and should not be used as material in the great fanboy wars of 2011. A more fair comparison are Nexus product updates to iPhone updates as they are both products directly from the vendor.

The chart is below and we will let you be the judge of who is better at updating their devices in a timely manor.

Image Credit: Theunderstatement.com

 

Thanks for the tip Mephistopheles

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I have 3 android and 0 iOS devices in my house and i have to agree with the whole android is upgradeable farce. Outside the USA aka the other 95% of the world, phones are 50% of the time purchased without contract and carriers DO NOT like updating android because they enjoy screwing customers into buying a new handset every so often. I look forward to x86 and Windows 8 making their way onto phones. Then i will use real PROGRAMS and not apps and i will upgrade my OS for a price when the new one is released. Seriously this app thing was created by Apple because they lacked flash but then idiots thought Apple actually invented programs and catalogues of those programs. Now Google and MS are just going with the flow. Annoying times we live in. My rant for the day.

Wow sir, you shouldn't be allowed to post articles anymore. This is clearly biased and not based on any statistical procedures. Fanboys... How unprofessional

Nashy said,
Watch all the Apple fanbois get all over this.

Really? Thats your contribution? All of the great posts explaining both sides of the system and just felt you had to say that? Did you read the graph and any of the comments or did you just look at the pretty colors and start typing?

Ohh a graph with Apple and Android on it.
Let us troll!

You misspelled boy as well.

There have only been three major l releases of Android for phones 1.x, 2.x and now 4.x (not covered by this chart).
Below that there are point releases: 1.5,1.6,2.0,2.1,2.3
Below that there are sub-point releases: 2.3.2, 2.3.3, etc
Then there are the builds by the Manufacturer's (eg two releases of one point release or a patch)
However after 1.5/1.6 Google allowed updates to the component apps via Marketplace.

So here is the worry: A horrible exploit is found say in the mail app. In IOS world the way you fix this is by releasing a point or sub-point release for the IOS. In Android land, marketplace announces you have an update available just for that one app. It gets patched.

You see in Android the Marketplace can patch (replace) both user apps and system apps even if the phone is not rooted. In IOS you can not patch system apps via the App Store it has to come via OS updates. So when we are talking OS support we really are comparing Apples to Oranges. The OSs both work and update differently. Using one OS assumption against another is stupid.

However there is one time when the stat's shown have a grain of truth and that is Major OS versions. Android 1.x can not run most 2.x apps. Time will tell if 2.x is incapable of running most 4.x apps. This could be the true orphanage.

I work with many people with Smartphones, mainly iPhones and Android phones. One guy has a HTC Hero and last I checked it still worked fine. Like wise I know people that still rock on 3GS iPhones and they are all ok. Others have installed IOS updates on the other hand had the performance drained from their phones. So being forced on to a latest OS can be a double edged sword, just like being ignored from point releases.

If you have an Android phone not having an update might disadvantage your phone it's a risk, like wise getting upgraded on your iPhone to the next IOS might mean your phone becomes as slow as an Android

I think iPhone users and Android users can all agree on one point though. Petty idiots trying to force their OS of choice down our throats are pain in the ass. You know what the iPhone is fine smartphone with many nice apps and a great interface. Android is a bit more rough and ready, but it gets the job done, how I want it and at the price I want to pay.

Besides it could be worse you could be using Windows Mobile 6.5
(I kid my dad has a WM 5! phone)

wait 2 more years and make same comparison, but not with iPhones, with Windows Phones. that would make sense.

Funny how minor point releases = "major version behind"

This graph is just an epic failure. Not even all flavors of IOS are the same. Apple may slap the same number on it for all their devices but vastly different features.

Nogib said,
Funny how minor point releases = "major version behind"

This graph is just an epic failure. Not even all flavors of IOS are the same. Apple may slap the same number on it for all their devices but vastly different features.

Doesn't Google consider point releases to be major releases?

Yes, depending on the phone, not all iPhones running iOS 5 have the same features, and that's mainly due to the fact that some phones have newer hardware, but that's not what the graph is about.

The graph shows that iPhones are supported with minor and major updates for about 3 years, while there are Android phones that get released with an older version of the OS, and they either get the update later or not at all. It's not an epic fail when it's true.

My iPhone 3G may say it has iOS 4 on it, but it certainly doesn't support all of iOS 4's features. It also runs extremely slow since the update. Would be nice if iTunes would let me downgrade.

Enron said,
My iPhone 3G may say it has iOS 4 on it, but it certainly doesn't support all of iOS 4's features. It also runs extremely slow since the update. Would be nice if iTunes would let me downgrade.

There are dozens/hundreds of guides for this. The iPhone 3G has nothing to prevent you from downgrading (SHSH is not enforced). If you don't like 4.0 (and I don't blame you), then install 3.1.3.

ccoltmanm said,
The graph is a year old. Relax.

Actually, the graph takes iPhone and Android models +1 year old (July 2010) and shows data for each phone for the first three years of their release.

Simply stated, it's showing that Apple has a 3+ year upgrade policy on all their devices while Android devices tend to lose support from their manufacturer anywhere from 1 year to a month before it's released.

Where's the Samsung Galaxy phones on the chart?

There some useful information in the chart, but the way it's presented (intentionally or unintentionally) skews the picture.

To put this chart in a different perspective if this were to:

What if it were to compare Apple computers and OS X compatibility to "all" pc compatibility and wither a specific OEM officially supported a newer version of windows.

In addition the Apple chart mis-represents "current", Covering original iphone, and listing them as "current".

Despite IOS 5 is NOT supported on anything lower then a 3gs.

etempest said,
Despite IOS 5 is NOT supported on anything lower then a 3gs.

What's your point? The iPhone was released over 4,5 years ago and the iPhone 3 over three years ago. Which means those phones received three years worth of major OS updates.

etempest said,
Where's the Samsung Galaxy phones on the chart?

There some useful information in the chart, but the way it's presented (intentionally or unintentionally) skews the picture...

To everyone trying to say this chart is wrong:

The chart clearly states: "Includes every iPhone & Android model released in the US before July 2010." And, the Samsung Galaxy S is an edge case that came out in the July 2010, which still does not officially have Android 2.3 in the US I might add.

Additionally, the chart shows the updates given to a phone from its release date. Not from three years from today.

For example: the original iPhone received updates for three full years. In other words, it continued to receive support through iOS 3. The dashed, black line shows the history of updates that it received, and the green blocks represent the major release (e.g., iOS 3 being a major, while iOS 3.1 would represent an update).

The solid black border represents, from the initial release, how long the phone was actually for sale.

With this in mind, the chart is completely factual and representative of Android's fragmentation and broken support structure. There is nothing misrepresented in this chart, and the only people that are afraid of it are the people that proclaim Android to be king and unfragmented. This chart quite clearly shows that it is a fragmented beast.

Not saying you are wrong there pickypg, but the US versions of the Galaxy S devices (Captivate, Facinate, Vibrant, etc) are the ones without Gingerbread. The international version has had Gingerbread for a while, actually since April 2011. AT&T and company are the ones holding it back because they wont get you to buy a new phone if your old ones get updaded!

NOTE - Not talking about some hack firmware, i mean officially from Samsung.

SHoTTa35 said,
The international version has had Gingerbread for a while, actually since April 2011. AT&T and company are the ones holding it back because they wont get you to buy a new phone if your old ones get updaded!
You're quite right. The update was pushed out starting in the Nordic region of Europe. I am not so sure that it is entirely a US carrier problem though considering that none of them have it. Even Rogers (Canada) just got it in September, and I hear nothing except the worst about them--far worse than what I hear from AT&T, Verizon et al in the US.

Regardless of which side is to blame, the fact is that the US phones (and, just to be fair to myself, I intentionally called out the "in the US" when I mentioned it) lack Android 2.3., and the longer it takes to get it, then the less likely it will be that it ever happens. It certainly seems unlikely that they have any hope of getting Android 4.0.

etempest said,
addition the Apple chart mis-represents "current", Covering original iphone, and listing them as "current".

Despite IOS 5 is NOT supported on anything lower then a 3gs.

The chart is clearly realtive to the three years following the release of each phone. It does not claim that the original iPhone is on the latest version of iOS now (iOS 5). It only claims that it was on the latest version of iOS available three years after it was originally released.

etempest said,
Where's the Samsung Galaxy phones on the chart?

There some useful information in the chart, but the way it's presented (intentionally or unintentionally) skews the picture.

To put this chart in a different perspective if this were to:

What if it were to compare Apple computers and OS X compatibility to "all" pc compatibility and wither a specific OEM officially supported a newer version of windows.

In addition the Apple chart mis-represents "current", Covering original iphone, and listing them as "current".

Despite IOS 5 is NOT supported on anything lower then a 3gs.

I wonder what happens to reading comprehension these days.

1. The page said "handsets released before July 2010"

2. The Vibrant, Epic 4G, Facinate, and Captivate are all stuck on Froyo.

3. Also, the handset are counted from INITIAL release. Three years after release, the iPhone 2G still got iOS 3.X which was still the current version.

pickypg said,
To everyone trying to say this chart is wrong:

The chart clearly states: "Includes every iPhone & Android model released in the US before July 2010." And, the Samsung Galaxy S is an edge case that came out in the July 2010, which still does not officially have Android 2.3 in the US I might add.

Additionally, the chart shows the updates given to a phone from its release date. Not from three years from today.

For example: the original iPhone received updates for three full years. In other words, it continued to receive support through iOS 3. The dashed, black line shows the history of updates that it received, and the green blocks represent the major release (e.g., iOS 3 being a major, while iOS 3.1 would represent an update).

The solid black border represents, from the initial release, how long the phone was actually for sale.

With this in mind, the chart is completely factual and representative of Android's fragmentation and broken support structure. There is nothing misrepresented in this chart, and the only people that are afraid of it are the people that proclaim Android to be king and unfragmented. This chart quite clearly shows that it is a fragmented beast.

+1

DKAngel said,
graph is flawed and a lame excuse for front page news, need a feedback + or minus button for news i recon

How exactly is it flawed? Because it doesn't put Android in a good light? At least back up your claims like the graph does..

DKAngel said,
graph is flawed and a lame excuse for front page news, need a feedback + or minus button for news i recon

Android fans being butthurt? If you say it's flawed, justify it sufficiently.

Xenomorph said,
I love the comments. Immediately bash Apple, and don't even read the chart.

Really? That's Ironic. 'cause I think you're the one not reading the graph...

Tekkerson said,

Really? That's Ironic. 'cause I think you're the one not reading the graph...


dude he's commenting on the comments. you can't infer whether or not he's read that thing bc hes not talking about it

Co_Co said,

dude he's commenting on the comments. you can't infer whether or not he's read that thing bc hes not talking about it

but he has to read the article to know if the comments are bashing apple with out reading the article or not.

Co_Co said,

dude he's commenting on the comments. you can't infer whether or not he's read that thing bc hes not talking about it

hes allowed to comment on a commenters' comment about how he is doing what he is complaining others are doing... ?

Very limited chart and reflecting one sided view in favor of the IPhone's iOS.

Where is Samsung Galaxy S? Where is Nexus (I & S)

Not that I think Google Android has a great support, but as an open platform has many advantages that Apple iOS doesn't.

Not to say that apple support is great (see problems related to iOS firmware upgrade)

DrCheese said,
Did you miss the bit at the top where it said "all phones released before July 2010" ?

Apparently he missed the whole chart as Nexus One is on the chart showing as "current"

raindrop said,
Very limited chart and reflecting one sided view in favor of the IPhone's iOS.

Where is Samsung Galaxy S? Where is Nexus (I & S)

Not that I think Google Android has a great support, but as an open platform has many advantages that Apple iOS doesn't.

Not to say that apple support is great (see problems related to iOS firmware upgrade)


Did you read?

It said it only included Android handsets released before July 2010.

Also, Nexus One is on the chart.

Besides, Samsung Epic 4g, Samsung Captivate, Samsung Facinate, and Samsung Vibrant handsets are all still stuck on Froyo.

Of course it's easier for Apple to upgrade since they only have ONE type of hardware with minor differences. With Android you are talking about hundreds of devices that all have different specs, software, etc.

Lexcyn said,
Of course it's easier for Apple to upgrade since they only have ONE type of hardware with minor differences. With Android you are talking about hundreds of devices that all have different specs, software, etc.

Who's fault is that? If manufactures can't keep up with the amount of different phone models they produce maybe they should produce less or hire more staff to work on the software end of things.

That's not totally true since most Epic 4G (NOT THE TOUCH) owners are still waiting for a Gingerbread update that samsung says they can not get on the phone and the phone is a little over a year old.

Richard Herman said,
Surely that just demonstrates good software business development strategy?

Not quite... imho Google never really pay attention to the upgrade path and leave it to the manufacturer to come up with its solutions; which the manufacturer does a sloppy job at it. M$ is taking control over the upgrade path and work with manufacturer, push them to push the updates out. Though Apple's way to push updates is the fastest (since the phones are from them as well), I think M$'s way to push updates is respectable, and Google needs to do something similar to help rectify the Android landscape. I really don't see why (for example) HTC Desire is dropped out of the newest OS despite being a high-spec phone when it first come out. Its spec is comparable to 3GS, and 3GS is still getting new OS......

leojei said,

Not quite... imho Google never really pay attention to the upgrade path and leave it to the manufacturer to come up with its solutions; which the manufacturer does a sloppy job at it. M$ is taking control over the upgrade path and work with manufacturer, push them to push the updates out. Though Apple's way to push updates is the fastest (since the phones are from them as well), I think M$'s way to push updates is respectable, and Google needs to do something similar to help rectify the Android landscape. I really don't see why (for example) HTC Desire is dropped out of the newest OS despite being a high-spec phone when it first come out. Its spec is comparable to 3GS, and 3GS is still getting new OS......

So then you agree that Google's strategy is flawed? If you can even call that a strategy...

This is stupid flawed. If you go by carrier release yes. But if you go by samsung firmware release you are always updated.

Wir3Tap said,
This is stupid flawed. If you go by carrier release yes. But if you go by samsung firmware release you are always updated.

.. this is not about firmware it is about MAJOR OS's.. read it

i wonder how windows phone will stack up on here after the first few years

Lachlan said,

.. this is not about firmware it is about MAJOR OS's.. read it

i wonder how windows phone will stack up on here after the first few years

I wonder the same thing. Something tells me that Windows Phone will stack up favorably... But when compared to Android, what couldn't?

Lol, this is posted in the forums, and is more or less just getting destroyed due to how flawed it really is.

firey said,
Lol, this is posted in the forums, and is more or less just getting destroyed due to how flawed it really is.

the word to describe this mess is pure BS. has the original iphone been updated to iOS 5? i thought that and the 3G were out of this update. also, being updated to the last version does not mean having all the features. the iphone 4 doesnt have siri. the original iphone doesnt support MMS, and possibly not even video recording.

i mean, android is a mess... but come on.

Julius Caro said,
the word to describe this mess is pure BS. has the original iphone been updated to iOS 5? i thought that and the 3G were out of this update. also, being updated to the last version does not mean having all the features. the iphone 4 doesnt have siri. the original iphone doesnt support MMS, and possibly not even video recording.

i mean, android is a mess... but come on.


Firstly, the graph clearly states that the phones are at the major version, dependent on their release, meaning the major version for the iPhone 3G after 3 years would be iOS 4, not iOS 5, which makes the point completely valid. And secondly the statement regarding hardware is acceptable, however applies to all devices, not just the iPhone, therefore isn't compared within the graph; which is designed to demonstrate OS updates, not hardware.

firey said,
Lol, this is posted in the forums, and is more or less just getting destroyed due to how flawed it really is.


Welcome to Neowin Journalism, where the journalists just copy pasta all day long..

firey said,
Lol, this is posted in the forums, and is more or less just getting destroyed due to how flawed it really is.

In my experience it isn't really. My iPod touch from 2008 received updates up until early 2011. My HTC Legend from april 2010 stopped receiving updates in October of the same year.

Edited by .Neo, Oct 28 2011, 4:57pm :

Julius Caro said,
the word to describe this mess is pure BS. has the original iphone been updated to iOS 5?

The original iPhone was released in January 2007 + 3 years of updates you get January 2010. Which means the most current iOS version for it would be version 3.x, which is exactly what happened. Try to read and do some research next time before calling something "BS".

Edited by .Neo, Oct 28 2011, 4:33pm :

.Neo said,

The original iPhone was released in January 2007 + 3 years of updates you get January 2010. Which means the most current iOS version for it would be version 3.x, which is exactly what happened. Try to read and do some research next time before calling something "BS".

agreed! This graph makes sense to me. I own a HTC Hero, Desire, and iPhone4... Hero's support dropped within 2 years, Desire dropped within 2 years... from the trend of iPhone upgrades, I can see iPhone4 will get more updates throughout the next 1.5 years...

What this graph tells me is, buying Android = risking to have an outdated OS soon.

firey said,
Lol, this is posted in the forums, and is more or less just getting destroyed due to how flawed it really is.

You mean people just don't want to admit it.

leojei said,

agreed! This graph makes sense to me. I own a HTC Hero, Desire, and iPhone4... Hero's support dropped within 2 years, Desire dropped within 2 years... from the trend of iPhone upgrades, I can see iPhone4 will get more updates throughout the next 1.5 years...

What this graph tells me is, buying Android = risking to have an outdated OS soon.

Yeah, I really don't understand what everyone is claiming to be incorrect. It looks fairly accurate from what I've seen over the last few years at least...

.Neo said,

The original iPhone was released in January 2007 + 3 years of updates you get January 2010. Which means the most current iOS version for it would be version 3.x, which is exactly what happened. Try to read and do some research next time before calling something "BS".

You nailed it.

People, come on, is it so hard for you to read graphs? :-/

Julius Caro said,

the word to describe this mess is pure BS. has the original iphone been updated to iOS 5? i thought that and the 3G were out of this update. also, being updated to the last version does not mean having all the features. the iphone 4 doesnt have siri. the original iphone doesnt support MMS, and possibly not even video recording.

i mean, android is a mess... but come on.


1. It's talking about major updates after initial release. In the case of the iPhone 2G, it was iOS 3.X released three years after the iPhone initial release

2. It didn't say that all the phones need to have the same features, just that they are getting major updates.